Fall season is here and that means Pumpkin everything! But don’t miss out on other tasty and healthy fruit and vegetables available this season:
The California apple season starts in late July; most growers will finish picking by the end of September/beginning of October.
Selection: firm, shiny, smooth-skinned apples with intact stems that are free from bruises and blemishes.
Storage: plastic bag away from strong-odor foods. Keep them in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator. A perforated plastic bag works best, as it allows some of the moisture to escape while keeping the apples crisp.
Prep: raw as a snack or can add it to a salad combined with dark greens and walnuts. Great addition to oatmeal or stuff the apples with a fruit cocktail. You can also bake them and add some cinnamon and toasted nuts, makes an excellent and healthy dessert.
Nutritional Benefits: rich in vitamin C and E, potassium and iron. It contains 2.7% of fiber (pectin) which is found mostly in the skin of the apple. It is one of the richest fruits in tannins, which are astringent and anti-inflammatory. It contains flavonoids like quercitin, with antioxidant effect, preventing the oxidation of LDL, preventing cholesterol from depositing in arteries and stopping the process of atherosclerosis.
Selection: firm, smooth skins and non-wilted leaves if still attached, smaller ones are more tender.
Storage: refrigerate in a plastic bag for up to 3 weeks, wash before cooking.
Prep: you can steam, boil or roast them.
- Steam: peel and cut beets into ½ inches pieces, set a steamer basket in a saucepan with 2 inches steaming water and cook for 15-20 minutes or until tender when pierced with knife.
- Boil: peel and cut beets into 1-inch pieces, boil in a slow simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until tender when pierced with knife.
- Roast: preheat oven to 450°F, peel and cut beets into 1-inch pieces, season with EVOO, salt and pepper and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until tender when pierced with knife.
Nutritional Benefits: high in immune-boosting vitamin C, fiber, and potassium (essential for healthy nerve and muscle function) and manganese (good for your bones, liver, kidneys, and pancreas). Beets also contain folate, which helps reduce the risk of birth defects.
Selection: firm, compact, bright green heads. You can also find bagged ones which are washed and cut, reducing prepping and cooking time.
Storage: refrigerate in plastic bag up to 1 week.
Prep: you can eat them raw (sliced) and add them to salad, just be mindful it may cause some gas and bloating. They can also be cooked in different ways such:
- Sauté: with avocado oil, seasoning and stir for 10-12 minutes.
- Roast: with avocado or EVOO oil, seasoned and bake at 400°F for 15-17 minutes in baking pan.
- Steam: fit a large pot with steamer insert, fill pot with enough water to touch the bottom of the insert, cover the bot and bring water to a boil. Add Brussel sprouts and steam for about 6-8 minutes, then season to taste.
Nutritional Benefits: excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin K. They are a very good source of folate, manganese, vitamin B6, fiber, choline, copper, vitamin B1, potassium, phosphorus and omega-3 fatty acids.
Selection: plump firm grapes that are firmly attached to the stem.
Storage: refrigerate in plastic bag up to 1 week.
Prep: have them raw as a snack or combine with mixed green salads or tuna salad.
Nutritional Benefits: eating red or purple whole grapes offers some heart benefits such as lowering LDL cholesterol, also known as the “bad” cholesterol. How much grape juice is recommended to receive heart benefits? One glass of 100% purple grape juice can provide the same benefits as 1 glass of red wine. However, it is always better to consume the whole fruit instead of fruit juice, this way you also consume its fiber. Grapes contains antioxidants such as flavonoids and resveratrol. They reduce the risk of blood clots and help maintain a healthy blood pressure.
Selection: well-shaped with firm texture, avoid spots and slime.
Storage: refrigerate in its original container or paper bag up to 1 week.
Prep: it is important that you don’t clean the mushrooms with soap and water since they have a very porous surface. For all mushrooms (except morels), use a damp paper towel or a soft mushroom brush to wipe each mushroom, one at a time, to remove any dirt. You can lightly rinse the mushrooms with cool water and pat dry with paper towels, but do not soak the mushrooms.
From there, you can eat them raw over antipasto or salad. You can also have them sautéed: heat avocado oil large saucepan over medium heat. Cook and stir mushrooms and seasoning in the hot oil until mushrooms are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer until mushrooms are tender, 5 to 8 more minutes.
Nutritional Benefits: rich in vitamin B1, B2, niacin and folate. They also provide protein, vitamin C and iron. Because their cells walls are indigestible unless exposed to heat, it is better to cook mushrooms to obtain all their nutritional benefits. Those you suffer of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) should be mindful of eating mushrooms given they contain high amounts of the polyols-mannitol and moderate amounts of oligo-fructans (all which worsen gas and bloating), so intake should be limited.
Selection: plump, round and heavy for it size.
Storage: can be stored in a cool, dry area for about 1 month or up to 2 months refrigerated.
Prep: eat the arils with a spoon, like you would eat a bowl of cereal or you can also cut the pomegranate into large chunks and bite down on the seeds. They make a great addition to salads, pancakes, cereal and oatmeal.
Nutritional Benefits: excellent source of fiber, vitamin C and K, good source of potassium, folate and copper. Pomegranates have antioxidant properties, depending on the portion size, it can provide about 3 times as many antioxidants as both wine or green tea.
Selection: firm and heavy for its size.
Storage: cool, dry place for up to 2 months.
Prep: preheat oven to 300°F, cut pumpkin into small manageable pieces and cut off pith and seeds. Place cut pumpkin skin side up in a large roasting pan. Add ¼ inch of water and bake uncovered for 1 hour or until tender. When cooled, cut away skin and mash or puree. It is very versatile and can use it with pasta dishes, mixed with curry, blended to muffin or pancake mix, etc.
Nutritional Benefits: excellent source of vitamin A, good source of vitamin C. Very low in calories, just one cup (cooked, mashed) provides about 50 calories, 12 g of carbs, 2.7 g of fiber, 0% fat and 245% of vitamin A.
Selection: firm, small to medium-sized potatoes with smooth skin, avoid cracks, soft spots and blemishes.
Storage: cool, dark place, use within 3-5 weeks.
Prep: the easiest way is to pierce their skin several times with a fork and bake at 400°F for 40-50 minutes or until fork tender.
Nutritional Benefits: high in vitamin A, they are also a very good source of vitamin C, manganese, copper, pantothenic acid and vitamin B6. Additionally, they are a good source of potassium, dietary fiber, niacin, vitamin B1, vitamin B2 and phosphorus. Just 1 cup (cooked, cubed) provides 4 g of fiber and 377% of vitamin A.